2. Gale Sayers
Years Active: 1965-1971
Career Stats: 4,956 YDS 39 TD
Injuries: Torn ligaments in right knee, torn cartilage
Gale Sayers' first season in the NFL is the stuff of legend. He shattered rushing records left and right. Sayers was the game's first finesse running back. He shot through holes in the O-line like a bullet and once he turned a corner, he was Swayze. He scored, a then, NFL record 22 TDs as a rookie—a record that stood for ten years and is now a rookie record. In just seven short years, 68 games to be exact, Sayers accomplished enough on the gridiron to make him the youngest player to be inducted into NFL Hall of Fame at the age of 34.
His right knee was destroyed in 1968 and when he returned the following season he was the NFL's leading rusher, but clearly was not the same player. He then injured his left knee the following year and was forced to retire. His recovery and relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo was immortalized in the made-for-TV movie, Brian's Song.